RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Four Britons face prison terms and a lashings in Saudi Arabia for illegal alcohol trading, the British Foreign Office said Friday.
No Briton has been flogged in Saudi Arabia since 1985.
The sentences were handed down Saturday at a court in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, but British authorities were informed of them only on Thursday.
The sentences of the four men, who had been held since November, ranged from one to 2 1/2 years and 300 to 500 lashes.
Kelvin Hawkins was jailed for 2 1/2 years and sentenced to 500 lashes. Paul Moss was sentenced to two years imprisonment and 500 lashes. David Mornin was sentenced to one year plus 300 lashes and was also fined $10,400.
Another Briton, Ken Hartley, was earlier sentenced to 2 1/2 years imprisonment, plus 300 lashes.
In Riyadh, Saudi security officials confirmed that four Britons had been sentenced to lashings and prison terms for alcohol smuggling. They did not identify them or provide details about their sentences.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said other foreign nationals would face court proceedings on similar charges. They provided no further details.
The Foreign Office said the British government had long held that corporal punishment was an infringement of human rights. A spokeswoman, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was understood the sentences were subject to review and the men may appeal.
They may also ask for the lashes to be commuted in exchange for a longer jail sentence, she said.
The Foreign Office said representatives from the British embassy had visited the men last week and were seeking access to see them again. The British ambassador and his staff were in constant contact with the Saudi authorities about all the cases and their families had been contacted, the spokeswoman said.
British press reports on Friday quoted family members as appealing for Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to intervene in the case.